Kabaddi fiasco: Indian teams do not turn up, confusions galore at federation’s trials

During trials conducted by the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India, players of the rival New Kabaddi Federation of India turned up after the latter misinterpreted a Delhi High Court’s order.

Kabaddi players for the trial selection process at Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi.   -  Vivek Tripathi

Players with grievances against the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) and High Court petitioners representing them were left frustrated when none of the members of the Asian Games kabaddi teams turned up at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Delhi on Saturday.

At stake was the verdict that the selection of the teams for the 2018 Asian Games was not fair. According to an order by the High Court on August 2, 2018, a “selection process” was to be undertaken on Saturday, to be conducted by the AKFI, as the court had admitted that a fresh selection process in the lead-up to the Games “may result in extreme demoralisation and impact the performance of the players in the ensuing competition.”

The High Court’s order had been in response to a petition filed by former India player Mahipal Singh, who had alleged that the Asian Games teams were not selected fairly.

However, neither the men’s nor the women’s national team came for the trials as it was later learnt that that the Delhi High Court’s order was misinterpreted by the petitioners from the rival New Kabaddi Federation of India (NKFI).

With the new “selection process” undefined, a group of players, representing the NKFI were brought to the venue to play the teams that participated in the Games to determine the validity of the original selection process. Without the expectant ‘match’ happening, however, the ire was turned against AKFI and in particular, its ex-president Janardhan Singh Gehlot, for what they alleged was corruption.

B. S. Nagar, one of the High Court petitioners against the AKFI, pointed out irregularities in the whole implementation of the “selection process” but accepted, “I don’t think there is any relevance of any selection match for any event and neither is there any intention for this.”

Would the matter be settled if the Asian Games teams had arrived? Under the observation of High Court-appointed administrator, Justice S. P. Garg, it would have been “better and fair to some extent,” Nagar admitted.

He said, “Suppose it is held that those who were selected were ineligible, it is not only basically a question mark on the players selected, it is also a question mark on the system adopted.”

Badal Chaprana, a member of the ‘team’ claimed that the AKFI “demanded money from the players” for team selections.

What added to the confusion was that Justice Garg and a team of selectors were present at the venue, overlooking a trial involving age-group female players under the aegis of the AKFI. They did not wish to entertain any questions on the controversy, saying they were following the Court’s order, which did not mention the required presence of the Asian Games teams for the "selection process." This was termed by Nagar as "eyewash."

The stalemate is set to continue, as the petitioners intend to file Contempt of Court proceedings “immediately” at the High Court.